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'Cap crop insurance subsidies,' says group

05/31/2012 @ 3:57pm

An analysis of over a million government records pertaining to federal crop insurance has found that in 2011 more than 10,000 individual farming operations have received federal crop insurance premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million apiece. The analysis found that some 26 farming operations received subsidies of $1 million or more last year.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the records have never before been made public and were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Subsidized crop insurance premiums have become the primary farm program,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for RuralAffairs. “And if one corporation farmed the entire Midwest, the government would pay over 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre.”

“It’s past time to put a cap on crop insurance premium subsidies and stop subsidizing mega farms to bid land away from smaller and beginning farmers,” Hassebrook added.

A copy of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) release, along with links to theanalysis and supporting data, can be viewed and downloaded at http://static.ewg.org/pdf/2012cropinsurance.pdf.
 
According to the EWG analysis, U.S.taxpayers pick up an average of about 62 percent of the crop insurance premiumsfor farm businesses. Their share of these premiums has soared from $1.5 billionin 2002 to $7.4 billion in 2011. The subsidies go to large operators with no conservation strings attached to protect water and soil, no means testing, and no payment limit on how much a farm business can collect (excerpted from EWG release).
 
Among the facts disclosed in the EWG analysis:

•A single farm business in Florida received $1.9 million in subsidies for premiums to insure crops of tomatoes and peppers in five counties.

•A Minnesota farm business insuring corn and soybeans in eight counties received $1.7 million in federal crop insurance subsidies.

•In Texas, the 10 percent of farm businesses that received the greatest amount of insurance subsidies harvested 63 percent of all the crop insurance subsidies that went into the state last year.

•The 10 percent of North Dakota farm businesses that received the greatest amount of insurance subsidies took in 45 percent of the subsidies going to all farms in the state.

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